Researchers at IIT-Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia successfully tested a new version of WALK-MAN humanoid robot for supporting emergency response teams during fire incidents.
The robot locates the fire position, walks toward it and then activates an extinguisher to eliminate the fire. During the operation, it collects images and transmits these back to emergency teams, who can evaluate the situation and guide the robot remotely. The most recent iteration of WALK-MAN has a new design featuring a lighter upper body and new hands in order to reduce construction cost and improve performance.
Developed as part of a European Commission-funded project launched in 2013, WALK-MAN is now at its final validation phase. During the final test, the robot was faced with a scenario representing an industrial plant damaged by an earthquake and where gas leaks and fire are present.
This latest WALK-MAN version is 1.85 meters tall, and composed of magnesium alloys, titanium, iron and plastics. Its weight has been reduced by 31 kilos to 102 kilos, enabling its legs to move faster while carrying a lighter upper body mass.
For more on this fire-damping development and an interview with Nikos Tsagarakis, a senior researcher at IIT and WALK-MAN project lead, read on at IEEE Spectrum.